PEKIN — For one local artist, the message is simple: Spread positivity and promote the community.
“I have been an artist my whole life and I have tried to sell my work before and it’s tough, really tough. It’s tough to find that right avenue, it’s tough to find the right people to receive your work and if you don’t have the right attitude and you don’t have the right message, it makes it harder even yet,” Luke Kinzler said, while discussing his latest mural at CJ’s Cafe in downtown Pekin.
For Kinzler, the right avenues have led him to the walls and exteriors of several Pekin businesses and community centers.
A lifelong artist, Kinzler, 30, and a Pekin native, has been leaving his mark throughout the community with murals at the Kountry Nook, Muse Salon, The Mansion on Walnut, and most recently, CJ’s Cafe, all in an effort to spread positivity and to build a sense of community and togetherness.
“I like my work to be associated and on things and around things that are helping in some sort of way or creating some positivity in some sort of way because that’s what my work does,” Kinzler said. “ ... It’s not about me. I like and want to promote these places I create for because I think their mission is worth promoting.”
His latest work entitled “Home” resides on a back wall in CJ’s Cafe and owner Dallas Pettingill said seeing Kinzler’s work at Muse Salon made him want a community-building mural.
“I liked the work and I knew he would make something really nice that would fit our cafe,” Pettingill said. “I was interested in the community aspect as far as it seems to be a place to draw a lot of different people. I love it.”
Kinzler, who calls his work “Spirit-Work Art” was inspired to follow an artistic path at a young age by his Grandma “Pooh” — whose real name was Winnie.
“When I was younger, she used to babysit and she used to draw Disney characters out of coloring books and I always wanted to do that because my grandma was a pretty good artist.”
Although an artistic sense was instilled into him at an early age, Kinzler, who had previously worked as a laborer and owned his own business before becoming a full-time artist, said it wasn’t until he started “living by faith” that his artistic career began to flourish.
“It’s not necessarily that I didn’t have the right message at the time or that it wasn’t coming from the right places,” Kinzler said about his early artistic career. “But it was more about worrying about other things — the bills being paid and other things. When I stopped worrying about those things, that’s when it started working and that’s living by faith, that’s living as an artist. It seems a little illogical to the outside world or society. ... But it’s coming from the right place, it’s not because I have to pay a bill.”
Kinzler’s ability to live by faith also allows him to give credit to a “higher power” for anything he creates because “art is deep and sometimes it’s deeper than anything we can understand.”
“I’m really just trying to spread the positivity and the message and I hope that it will still be continued to be received because I’m coming from the right places — that is living by faith,” Kinzler said. “I don’t want to guide anybody in one direction, and I think that’s what’s really neat about my work is that there is a lot of interpretation you can do on your own.”
Whether it’s another avenue to a mural on a Pekin business or expanding his smaller canvas work, Kinzler plans on following any path in the future, as long as it’s led by faith and it’s colorful.
“I’m going to keep embracing what comes to me and walk in a way that I feel will inspire people. ... I hope to still be inspiring people, I hope I’m still inspiring people and I hope to still be spreading positivity and trying to make the world a better place.”